Colour at a Cost: The Impact of Textile Dyeing on Water

21st October 2018     News Fabrics Fashion Future Fabrics Expo The Sustainable Angle

We love colour! But at what cost? The fashion industry invests extensive research into colour trends each season, which means textile dyeing and processing plays a vital role in the supply chain. Yet how much water is used (and often polluted) in order to achieve the colours we love so much?  

Traditional textile and fibre processing — which includes dyeing, printing and finishing — is intensive in water and energy consumption. According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), the water footprint in the UK alone is 2,534m3 of water for every tonne of clothing used in one year, with 318m3 /tonne at the processing and manufacturing stage (WRAP, 2012)  — that means the water used in processing and manufacturing is almost the size of an average swimming pool!

Water is one of The Sustainable Angle’s main environmental concerns, and a key criterion when it comes to selecting suppliers for our Future Fabrics Expo.  In support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, our ‘Water’ criterion encompasses the reduction of water use and wastage across the textile supply chain, the treatment and filtering of effluent and wastewater, and the use of exemplary wet processing methods.

From URS for WRAP’s Report, “Review of Data on Embodied Water in Clothing Summary Report”

 

Addressing water scarcity and pollution are important global issues, along with the effect upon biodiversity and associated human health risks. Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population, and more than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or the sea without any pollution removal (United Nations, 2018). Most textile processing is heavily concentrated in regions where water quality is low, putting vulnerable populations at risk.

Earlier this month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning that there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. At 1.5C the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2C. (The Guardian, 2018)

However, new solutions and innovations have made dramatic improvements in the reduction of water consumption and chemical pollution. These innovations consider water use, chemicals, the ingredients dye pigments are made from, where dye is added, and in which stage of the process.

Reinventing the way denim is dyed is one way to address these challenges.  Archroma’s Advanced Denim processes use a new eco-conscious generation of concentrated sulfur dyes, instead of the high-risk chemical aniline traditionally used in indigo.  These sulfur-mixed dyes are fixed to the fibre, applied with protective starch, then oxidized with bi-catonic agents, eliminating all other steps in the dyeing process including wastewater.

By avoiding the batch-dyeing process entirely, and applying colour directly into the filament is how We aRe Spindye is addressing textile dye challenges. 

Imitating nature’s colours using microorganisms is an ingenious reinvention of the colouration process, developed by Colorifix.

To learn more about these and other low-impact and water saving dye innovations, register to visit our 8th Future Fabrics Expo in January 2019.     

For more information about The Sustainable Angle’s Environmental Criteria, click here

 

References:

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/

URS for WRAP. (10 July 2012). Review of Data on Embodied Water in Clothing Summary Report. Retrieved from  http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Appendix%20V%20-%20Water%20footprint%20report.pdf

Watts, J. (8 October 2018). We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report

Image courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

 

Every year the world’s famous and historic Victoria & Albert Museum in London curates a major fashion exhibition that brings relevant cultural issues to the forefront. This year’s theme is Fashioned from Nature, the first UK exhibition to explore the complex relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 to present day.

The exhibition presents fashionable dress alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics and dyeing processes, inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes. (V&A Museum, 2018).

Fashion’s latest complex relationship with nature — sustainability — was the core topic of the recent conference hosted by the V&A on 5 October, “Fashioned From Nature: Designing a Sustainable Future”.

The Sustainable Angle’s Founder and Director, Nina Marenzi, and Curator & Consultant of the Future Fabrics Expo, Amanda Johnston, both had the pleasure of being guest speakers at the conference, covering “The Material Future of Fashion”. The material discussion was finished off with a Q&A alongside Orr Yarkoni from Colorifix, and Oya Barlas Bingül from Lenzing.

Key speakers at the conference ranged from academia to global brands to journalists to textile leaders, including our friends at Centre for Sustainable Fashion, CELC, Nike, and Stella McCartney to name a few. Industry experts were brought together to explore creative and practical ways to reduce the environmental impact of fashion, from small-scale innovations to new methods being introduced by global brands.

Edwina Ehrman, Senior Curator of ‘Fashioned from Nature’

Against the beautiful backdrop of the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, environment takes centre stage as attendees come together to discover the future of a more sustainable fashion industry, through emerging alternatives in fashion and textile production and design. (V&A, 2018)

As Edwina Ehrman, Senior Curator of Fashioned from Nature, states, “In this fashion exhibit, the environment and nature is at its core”. Sustainability is now a design principle.

Guest speakers Amy Powney and Carrie Somers from fashion label Mother of Pearl, can attest to this. They started their design process via a pilot sustainability project, researching materials with conscious environmental and social impacts with the aim to create a transparent supply chain. This led to the ‘No Frills’ collection, one of their most commercially successful collections. Beyond being aesthetically beautiful in design, many of their materials turned out to be cheaper than using conventional materials. Mother of Pearl’s project proved that the benefits of applying sustainable material sourcing are not only environmental but economical.

Image credit (left to right): Mother of Pearl’s No Frills Collection; Stella McCartney’s Spring Summer 2019 Collection

CELC Linen, The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp suppliers is the main sponsor of Fashioned from Nature. Their socially responsible European Flax® fibre certification ensures no irrigation, GMOs or waste. The Masters of Linen certification label from CELC means the entire supply chain of flax is grown, processed and manufactured in Europe.

Claire Bergkamp, Worldwide Director of Sustainability and Innovation for Stella McCartney, says that their Spring/Summer 2019 collection was the most sustainable yet. The collection used recycled materials, sustainable viscose, and innovative leather alternatives to name a few. “Leather is 10-20x more impactful on the planet than vegan materials”, she adds, but recognizes that synthetics do have problems such as their end-of-life stage.

Our own The Sustainable Angle presentation was about “Transforming the industry requires a bold re-imagining of how we manage our resources. It is presenting opportunities for material innovation,” says Nina Marenzi.

Together with Amanda Johnston, a range of materials from the Future Fabrics Expo were introduced to the audience. This included emerging innovations such as Nova Kaeru’s fish leather processed with low impact tanning, and organic silk denim and biodegradable sequins. Commercially available fabrics were also shown, such as sports fabrics made with Seaqual’s recycled and recovered marine plastics. There were also biodegradable cellulosic fibres from sustainable wood sources produced in a closed loop cycle, such as Tencel™. An updated, sustainable denim from Bysshe was introduced, which is composed of fibres made from hemp (grown on marginal lands without pesticides, fertilizers or irrigation) and blended with organic cotton (rainfed, grown in crop rotation).

Left to right: Nova Kaeru, Seaqual, and Bysshe.

Amanda Johnston adds, “When deciding what materials to use for fashion, the key considerations are: raw materials that take into account agriculture, limited natural resources availability, material processing and end-of-life use.”

With major industry players placing sustainability at the top of their agenda, Fashioned from Nature is a culturally-relevant exhibition that dissects how the fashion industry can use the past and present, to become empowered to think for the future of the planet. We were proud to have contributed to the exhibit by introducing the curators to sustainable materials from the Future Fabrics expo. Thank you to the V&A for inviting us to speak at the conference.

REGISTER TODAY for our upcoming 8th Future Fabrics Expo.

Fashioned from Nature is on display at the V&A until 27 January, 2019. Visit the exhibition.

13th September 2018

Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week in Istanbul 

On the  13th of  September The Sustainable Angle’s curator Amanda Johnston was invited to join the Lenzing Sustainability panel discussion during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Istanbul. This year the event was held at the Zorlu Performing Arts Centre, nestled within the luxurious Zorlu shopping centre.
The history of Istanbul Fashion Week only dates back to 2008, then named Fashion Lab, expanding to become a fully-fledged fashion week in 2010.
The panel were greeted by a packed theatre with a diverse audience comprised of fashion fans, industry insiders, buyers, journalists, bloggers, influencers and photographers.
The discussion was chaired by renowned journalist Ferhan Istanbullu, and the panel was coordinated by Hale Saracoglu from Lenzing, who also contributed her expertise in the fashion industry supply chain and in the field of man made cellulosics. She conveyed the importance of clear communication around sustainability to the discussion. Hale explained and highlighted the FSC certified wood feedstock, closed loop production process and key benefits of different Lenzing fibres such as Tencel™, Eco Vero™ and Refibra™.
Ferhan was interested to hear the panel’s thoughts on defining sustainability, and to frame the importance of our fast fashion habits as contributors to the culture of fashion consumption. The panel observed that with fast fashion we have been led to consume very easily in excess quantities. We can throw away the products we don’t like or we don’t want anymore so easily, as their price suggests that their value is disposable, and we have lost the desire, patience and knowledge to care for and repair our clothing.
The challenges designers and brands face today is in implementing holistic sustainable practices- and understanding that sustainability goes beyond choosing the right fibres or production processes, but is also about the quality and longevity of garments, in order to stem the huge environmental impact that comes from today’s throw away culture of clothing.

Amanda introduced the work of the The Sustainable Angle, what we do, and how we developed our criteria, highlighting examples of more sustainable and responsible materials for fashion in both man-made and natural fibres which have a low environmental impact, highlighting the variety of choices available and the necessity to move away from unsustainable non-renewable virgin polyester and conventionally grown cotton currently dominating the market. We discussed the need for diversification of the global fibre basket, and the crucial need to develop circular models throughout the textiles supply chain, and through to product in order to provide solutions to our growing, and unmanageable material waste streams. We shared the interest from industry partners in projects that propose how we may think differently about material sources in the future, and how we manage those waste streams.
At retail lack of information on labels means that consumers don’t know where the fabric come from, what is it made of? The answers to these questions and transparency of process are important. For example TENCEL™ branded fibers come from trees. But, understanding the processes that makes the fibre, yarn and fabric are as important as the raw material of fabrics, only this way we may understand its impact to the environment and make informed choices when we shop. The need for full transparency of information, certifications and supply chain traceability being key.

Simone Seisl, Materials expert, Ambassador and Consultant for Textile Exchange said; ‘we are talking about a very serious subject with global climate change, and we need to act as a community to create a change. We have duties individually both in our professional work environment and personally in our private life. We don’t expect anyone to make a dramatic change from day one to day two however starting from today we need to start this movement step by step. Water waste, global climate change and the micro-plastic issue in the oceans are some of the environmental problems. There is no one solution to all, all the problems are linked together.’
Simone flagged up an opportunity and observed that Turkey is a key player in Denim production in the world, and that Textile Exchange believe that Turkey is poised to play an important role in the successful recycling of Denim in the future, lowering the impact on natural resources and initiating an important step towards the circular economy for textiles.

All agreed there is now an urgency to investigate how we can produce raw materials more sustainably, and innovate, by first thinking in a solutions based way. Also, discussions about some of the new innovations and solutions, developed to address our most pressing sustainability issues, including leather alternatives and the interest in recycling technologies and pre and post consumer industry and food waste materials suggested a new, responsibly produced materials landscape for the future.

The discussion concluded with a Q&A, of not only consumer habits and how to make the right fibre choices, but most importantly of how to think creatively, how sustainability should be recognised as a game changer and an opportunity, for businesses to future proof their operations. The discussion also drew attention to the significance of the impact that we as consumers and industry practitioners can have through our everyday choices.

Many thanks to Hale and the team at Lenzing Istanbul for their organisation and hospitality.

24th – 25th January 2019, Victoria House, London , WC1

 

The Sustainable Angle is delighted to announce that the 8th Future Fabrics Expo will present its largest ever dedicated sustainable materials showcase at    a new venue, Victoria House, Central London (Holborn WC1) in January 2019. 

Following the success of the 7th Future Fabrics Expo in January 2018, and in response to demand from both our partner mills and industry visitors, the 2019 8th edition of the Future Fabrics Expo has increased in scale, ambition and vision.

Our aim is to provide the fashion industry with a one stop shop for accessing a broad range of material solutions, and the strategic tools needed to respond to the critical imperative to change current practices presented by the wasteful and polluting impacts of the fashion and textile industries.  Since our inception in 2011, the Expo has facilitated and supported sustainable sourcing practices, enabling fashion brands to begin diversifying their fabrics and materials and lowering environmental impacts.

These materials are global qualities, which  showcases and enables informed sourcing. We situate this resource in the current sustainability context, providing educational background information and research, aiming to demystify the complexities of sustainable practice. The best practice traditional natural fibres, regenerated cellulosics, naturals and synthetics bio source, and closed loop materials.

Enhancing our curated selection of globally sourced textiles and materials will be ten specially selected best practice mills and suppliers, presenting their materials in their own dedicated space. For the first time we will also showcase several manufacturers and globally recognized certifiers. A new space presenting fashion brands working with materials sourced via the Future Fabrics Expo provides a view of best practice, from materials sourcing through to product realisation.

We will also again be presenting an exciting expanded Innovation Hub, showcasing both emerging and commercially available innovations, featuring a collaboration with Fashion for Good organisation. The Innovation Hub acknowledges the recent surge in research and design that has led to the plethora of materials innovations we are now seeing surface in response to material scarcity, increasing waste streams, the need for transparent and traceable supply chains, and those addressing the cellulose gap for example .

We have coordinated again an inspirational seminar programme, featuring key thought leaders, panel discussions and presentations from innovators, industry insiders, textile producers and designers.

 

 

Why Visit?

 

Nearest tube station:  Holborn station, Central line. Address: Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4DA

Please contact us if you require further information at info@thesustainableangle.org

 

REGISTER HERE to sign up to the  8th Future Fabric Expo

 

To find out more about The 7th Future Fabrics Expo:

https://thesustainableangle.org/the-7th-future-fabrics-expo-3/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7Iwmiwq8mw

 

To find out more about recent events where the Future Fabrics Expo was showcased such as Copenhagen Fashion Summit, The London Textile Fair and London Fashion Week, please see below:

Copenhagen Fashion Summit:

https://thesustainableangle.org/the-sustainable-angles-future-fabrics-expo-at-copenhagen-fashion-summit

The London Textile Fair:

https://thesustainableangle.org/london-textile-fair

London Fashion Week:

https://thesustainableangle.org/london-fashion-week-round-up

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The Future Fabrics Expo at The London Textile Fair

The Sustainable Angle showcased the Future Fabrics Expo for the first time at The  London Textile Fair on the 18 & 19th July 2018 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, North London.

The London Textile Fair invited the Future Fabrics Expo as part of its vision and commitment to help guide designers and brands on their journey towards more sustainable fabric sourcing and practices.

The Sustainable Angle presented a special edition of the Future Fabrics Expo, which showcased an information platform, enabling visitors at The London Textile Fair to access and discover a diverse range of commercially available sustainable textiles and material innovations for the future of fashion. This debut of a dedicated focus on sustainable fabrics at The London Textile Fair reflects a timely recognition of the critical imperative for the fashion and textile industries to practice sustainability throughout the fashion supply chain, starting with materials sourcing, at the very fibre and fabric stage.

Within our Expo we featured two seminars each day, the first by The Sustainable Angle curator Amanda Johnston, highlighting current fashion and textile impacts. The critical need to think more intelligently about outdated models that pollute, waste precious resources and perpetrate the abuse of human rights and animal ethics were discussed. The seminar summarised the key sustainability issues of fibre and processing types, and introduced the Sustainable Angle’s perspective on materials sourcing. 

Oya Barlas Bingual from Lenzing Group introduced the company’s global firsts regarding fibre technology in low impact regenerated cellulosic’s, and the newly launched innovations that are providing viable alternatives to cotton and silk, whilst importantly paving the way towards closing the loop on our material streams. For example, LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose fibres are created from certified raw materials and controlled sources, and TENCEL™ Lyocell with REFIBRA™ technology involves up-cycling a proportion of pre- consumer cotton scraps.

We were delighted to present for the first time, a curated selection of qualities that meet our criteria from the London Textile Fair exhibitors, and to highlight examples of best practice responsibly produced fabrics on the Future Fabrics Expo Forum in the main foyer. Here we also introduced our organisation and research, highlighting current data which emphasizes the need to practice more responsibly in order to future proof supply chains and business. These qualities showcased the broad range of sustainable solutions, from closed loop c, eco- down, ‘waterless’ printing, recycled materials through to GOTS certified cottons produced in France, exemplified by Les Trouvailles d’Amandine

This special edition of the Future Fabrics Expo aimed to educate and inform visitors about the latest research and initiatives of global textile organisations, who are making positive contributions to the design, manufacture, and functionality of more sustainable practices, creating and extending sustainable networks in the fashion and textile industries. We supported this by presenting a broad range of fabrics, materials and key information that contributes to increasing knowledge and providing solutions from a sourcing perspective.

The Future Fabrics Expo provide their experience, research and robust criteria to create a specially curated selection of materials and textiles with a lower environmental impact all in one place at the London Textile Fair. To enquire about our projects, research and consultancy for the fashion industry services please email info@thesustainableangle.org

Thank you to The London Textiles Fair team for hosting us, and for the overwhelmingly positive feedback from all our visitors!

24th – 25th January 2018, London

The Sustainable Angle holds the 7th Future Fabrics Expo, a curated showcase of 5000+ sustainable innovative fashion materials with a lower environmental footprint, on 24-25th January 2018. Since 2011, our aim is to support sustainable sourcing, enabling fashion brands to begin diversifying their fabrics and materials basket right now in order to reduce their environmental footprint.